Best players by position: Rabun WR Gibson within reach of career yardage record

Credit: Daniel Varnado/Special to the AJC

Credit: Daniel Varnado/Special to the AJC

One of Georgia’s oldest and most impressive state records is under threat this season, and it has been a well-kept secret.

Jaden Gibson, a Rabun County senior wide receiver, needs 1,304 receiving yards to break Stan Rome’s record of 4,477 yards set from 1971 to 1973. Gibson had more than 1,800 yards receiving last season.

Rome is a Georgia legend, a 6-foot-4 Valdosta tight end who was voted into the inaugural class of the Georgia High School Football Hall of Fame last month. Rome finished tied for second in the voting behind Herschel Walker.

This list of wide receivers is another in a series of feature articles that recognize the state’s best players by position. They are chosen primarily on high school production, though college potential also is considered. These players are members of GHSF Daily’s Georgia Power 100.

*Craig “C.J.” Adams, Pebblebrook: Adams had 54 receptions for 936 yards and 11 touchdowns for a 9-2 Class 7A team that equaled its most victories since 2006. He also rushed for four touchdowns. Adams was Pebblebrook’s quarterback as a sophomore and passed for 1,428 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also plays in the secondary, where he had 17 tackles. Adams (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) is a consensus three-star recruit who committed to South Carolina in June. He is Pebblebrook’s highest-rated recruit this century.

*Za’Quan Bryan, Benedictine: Bryan, a first-team all-state Class 3A player, was a two-way starter who had 95 receptions for 1,376 yards and 15 touchdowns for the Class 4A champions in 2021. He had 10 receptions for 121 yards and two touchdowns in the championship game against Carver of Columbus. Bryan’s total yards hit 2,251 with 249 rushing and 626 returning. Bryan had 51 tackles as a cornerback, the position he’s projected to play in college. He has run a sub-11.0 100-meter dash. Bryan (5-11, 180) committed to Minnesota in June.

*Ny Carr, Colquitt County: Carr had 40 receptions for 856 yards and 13 touchdowns as a sophomore on an 8-3 Class 7A team last season. Carr (6-0, 170) is a consensus top-100 national recruit among juniors and the highest-rated Colquitt County WR prospect this century. He committed to Georgia in July ahead of his junior season.

*Jevell “J.D.” Fugerson, Lee County: Fugerson had 58 receptions for 940 yards and nine touchdowns for a Class 6A quarterfinalist in 2021. He also scored two rushing touchdowns and was 5-for-5 passing for 130 yards and a score. Fugerson (6-0, 190) is a consensus three-star recruit with 10 offers.

*Adam Hopkins, Thomas County Central: Hopkins, a top-200 national senior recruit, is Georgia’s highest-rated WR prospect. He has 1,065 yards receiving for his career in an offense that has struggled in the passing game. He’s been perhaps more valuable as a cornerback thus far, breaking up 12 passes in 2021 for a 5-6 team last season. Hopkins’ reported favorite is Texas A&M.

*Jaden Gibson, Rabun County: Gibson had 86 receptions for 1,878 yards – the second-highest single-season total in state history – in 2021. Nineteen catches went for touchdowns. Gibson needs 1,304 yards to break Stan Rome’s career record set in 1973. Gibson (6-1, 175) committed to Georgia Southern in June.

*Martel Hight, Rome: Hight had 70 receptions for 1,005 yards and nine touchdowns as a junior on an 8-3 team. Hight (5-11, 160) is a consensus top-400 national recruit who committed to Vanderbilt last month. Projected as a college cornerback, he’s the 19th-highest-rated Vandy recruit this century and No. 1 in his class.

*Cayden Lee, Kennesaw Mountain: Lee had 54 receptions for 1,014 yards and 11 touchdowns for 10-3 Westlake last season and made first-team Class 6A all-state. His season included a 227-yard receiving game against Carrollton in the playoffs. He began high school at Hillgrove and is returning to Cobb County for his senior season. Lee (5-11, 175) is a top-500 national recruit with offers from Georgia, Georgia Tech, Florida, Oklahoma, Ole Miss and others.

*Malik Leverett, Greenbrier: Leverett, Greenbrier’s highest-rated prospect in history, had 77 receptions for 1,326 yards and eight touchdowns last season for a 4-6 team. He also scored six rushing touchdowns and was 4-for-4 passing for 94 yards and two scores. He averaged 177.8 all-purpose yards per game. Leverett (6-3, 200) is a consensus three-star recruit who committed to East Carolina in June.

*Zion Ragins, Jones County: Ragins is 5-9, 150, but he’s as fast as polished steel. He’s a consensus top-50 national junior recruit and destined to be a four-year high school starter. He had 63 receptions for 1,062 yards and nine touchdowns for a 10-3 Class 5A quarterfinal team in 2021. He added 229 yards rushing with three touchdowns and a kickoff-return TD. Ragins has a personal-best 10.47 seconds in the 100 meters and won state titles in that event as a freshman and sophomore. Ragins is the 10th-highest-rated WR prospect in Georgia this century and No. 1 from Middle Georgia.

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